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Waist size a better measure of obesity

delhi Updated: Nov 27, 2012 01:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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When Shruti Saxena, 30, went in for a body composition analysis, she was shocked to find that her fat mass was more than her muscle mass.

Her body mass index, which is a calculation of height to weight ratio was a healthy 22.7, well within the normal range of 18.5- 23.0. But the high percentage of body fat, 37.1% (normal:18-28%), left her shocked.

A simple ratio of waist and height (WHtR) was 0.56, which is 37.1%. Ideally, body fat should be lower than 27% in women and 17% in men, at lower than 0.50 WHtR. This has been taken as the cut off range as cases with medical history of hypertension, diabetes, hyperthyroid, polycystic ovarian syndrome, dyslipidemia increased after this cut off WHtR value.

Compilation of data by VLCC — based on WHtR—showed that despite being the healthy BMI range, there is a noticeable percentage of people who are diagnosed with medical disorders related to obesity. A total of 6,720 subjects, aged 19-75 years were randomly selected for the study.

“Till today it was said that BMI was the indicator, 22.9 was a healthy height to weight ratio, but a close look at the body composition data of 6700 weight-loss clients showed that of the 260 women with normal BMI, at least 12% had medical conditions. In the overweight range, 23-24.9, we had 548 women, of who 22% had medical conditions,” said Veena Agarwal, VLCC researcher and a former consultant at the Nutrition Foundation of India.

“Similarly, for men, there were about 15 clients in the normal BMI range and 13% had medical problems,” she said.

Agarwal said that the second marker which calculated waist with hip ratio was also faulty. “If one sheds weight on the hip, one could also as an effect lose weight on the waist. So that ratio remains the same. How can that be a definitive marker?”

“The concept of using waist to height ratio, which can be done using a simple measuring tape is easy and practical. Moreover, it is an accurate assessment tool for self-analysis of one’s health status without spending a rupee,” said Vandana Luthra, founder of VLCC, wellness centres.